Michigan Association of School Administrators

Your Success. Our Passion.

Member Blogs

Blog Authors

David Britton, Godfrey-Lee
Rich Franklin, Athens
Scot Graden, Saline
Tony Habra, Paw Paw
Jerry Jennings, MASA
Michele Lemire, Escanaba
Vickie Markavitch, Oakland
Steve Matthews, Novi
Mike Paskewicz, Northview

MASA members: If you have a blog that you would like us to link please contact pmarrah@gomasa.org

Learning to Do: From Unschooling Rules

Written by David Britton on Jul 23, 2015
According to Clark Aldrich, schools spend most of their time focused on learning to know the knowledge that comes from textbooks, lectures and other instruction typically delivered by a teacher.  Little time is spent on learning to do through skills that can then be applied in what he refers to as, "the productive world."

Aldrich provides an interesting list of 25 critical life skills which he claims are "seldom taught, tested, or graded" in schools:

  • Adapting
  • Analyzing and managing risks
  • Applying economic, value, and governing models
  • Behaving ethically
  • Being a leader
  • Building and nurturing relationships
  • Communicating
  • Creating or process reengineering new actions, processes and tools
  • Developing security
  • Efficiently meeting complex needs
  • Gathering evidence
  • Identifying and using boards of mentors and advisers
  • Maintaining and practicing stewardship of important systems and capabilities
  • Making prudent decisions
  • Managing conflict
  • Managing projects
  • Negotiating
  • Planning long term
  • Prioritizing tasks and goals
  • Probing
  • Procurement
  • Scheduling
  • Solving problems innovatively
  • Sourcing/buying/procuring goods and services
  • Using containment strategies
How do we move away from learning only what's tested in school to learning what will be tested in life?

Lifelong Learners

Written by Scot Graden on Jul 14, 2015

@SuperStars2ndGr I love that we both bought this book w/o the other knowing. #greatminds #DynamicDuo https://t.co/b9Dao39G6X

— Jennifer Miller (@jenniferkmiller) July 14, 2015


To be invested in learning throughout one’s life is part of the mission statement for the Saline Area Schools.  What is exciting for me is to witness how well the Saline Area Schools staff embody that mission over the summer!  Through social media, staff members are posting of their learning opportunities from all around the country.  Updates are posted from New York to Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and even Finland as teachers and administrators seek training to enhance the experiences for all Saline students.  For Saline teachers, the summer is a time to learn!

I follow along on Twitter as teachers post what they are reading, participating in focused chat sessions, and networking with other educational leaders from across the country, and around the world.  And it is that leadership that we need now – more than ever before – from all of the teachers. Teacher leaders bring innovative ideas from other educational gurus and technology experts to a district that is already at the forefront of instruction and learning.  How exciting that the teachers model in their personal lives the same outcomes that we hope to instill in the students:  lifelong learners and leaders.

Bringing excellence to teaching and learning, and leading the way for others to emulate is a source of pride in the Saline Area Schools.  Teacher leaders, those that seek to improve continuously, will return to school in the fall with new, innovative approaches to instruction and pedagogy.  It is with pride that we follow these teachers on their learning adventures.  How exciting that they have the drive to strive for excellence in all that they do; the students of the Saline Area Schools are the most fortunate recipients of that learning.

What does mission driven mean for us?

Written by Scot Graden on Jul 12, 2015

I have been reading about the need for organizations to be “mission driven” in the 21st century.  In these fast-paced, technology-driven times, employees and educational leaders must be focused on the organizational mission. Adopting a system-wide, results-based philosophy with a clear vision is essential.  The mission of Saline Area Schools is:

We, the Saline Area Schools, will equip all students with the knowledge, technological proficiency, and personal skills necessary to succeed in an increasingly complex society.

We expect that our students, staff, and the Saline community will share in these responsibilities.

Our ultimate goal is to instill in our students a desire for lifelong learning.

If this is the result that we want achieve – to instill a desire for lifelong learning – how is that measured?  Are the mandated state assessment (M-Step, ACT, NWEA) scores relevant data points? If so, how can we use that data to measure success?  Are data points like attendance, college acceptance, and college completion rates better indicators of lifelong learning?  What about students that pursue skilled trades and the training that entails? What about non-traditional learners that continue to focus on learning?  How is that information on that success captured, and if it is – how is it actionable for us when the students leave the  Saline Area Schools?

The idea I have been thinking about is looking at student engagement as a measure of instilling a desire to learn.  Measuring student engagement would drive us to look for ways to more deeply involve students in their learning. Once students understand why education is important and become excited and committed to learning, the drive to excel and continue learning becomes an innate part of the student’s psyche.  Measuring student engagement is no small task. It would push to assess what engagement looks like at various grade levels. Will deeper engagement lead to higher scores on our current assessments while leading to a deepening desire to learn?
I still have more questions than answers, but the need to define what is actionable about our mission is clear.

Oakland Schools Board of ED Recommends New Superintendent

Written by Vickie Markavitch on Jun 08, 2015

“We believe we have a person in-house that has shown us, over the last 14 months, exactly the kind of leadership, purpose and momentum we are looking for”…

 Letter from the Board President

President of the Board Barbara DeMarco

June 8, 2015 – Last month the Oakland Schools Board of Education accepted the resignation of  Dr. Vickie L. Markavitch, who has been serving as the superintendent of Oakland Schools since spring of 2004. Since then, we have been considering the process we will use to select our next superintendent. We want someone who understands the important work of an intermediate school district (ISD), who understands the challenges we have overcome and those we are now facing.

We are proud to be overseeing an organization that has prospered, despite the recent recession; that has increased services and helped distressed districts with fewer resources. The conservative planning and tough decisions have yielded positive results for Oakland Schools. In the past decade we have coordinated cost-savings and collaborative efforts for the 28 public school districts in Oakland County, saving districts more than $78 million in 2013-2014. Our work directly impacts students from preschool through high school and in some cases into college:

  • We are growing Early Childhood education in our county, doubling the number of low income four- year-olds served.
  • We have worked closely with our Learning Achievement Coalition – Oakland (LAC-O) to improve literacy, mathematics, early childhood, and student engagement across the county.
  • We have seen significant progress in writing scores and steady gains in reading across the county, and we are steadily closing achievement gaps.
  • Our technical campus students are also seeing great success. Not only do  they earn college credit with 11 post-secondary institutions while they are in high school, but they also earned more than 1,300 industry-recognized certifications proving their readiness for high-demand careers.

Not all of our success is related to student growth and achievement. Over the last few years direct services to local districts in the areas of Technology, Business, Human Resources and Communications have grown significantly, especially for the Pontiac School District as they are in the first-ever consent agreement with the State of Michigan. And this is just a small sample of what we are accomplishing. All one has to do is thumb through our annual District Service Report to see the scope of our work and all we are achieving.

Everywhere we look we see evidence of improvements and success, and we believe we owe much of this to our outstanding leadership team. Their guidance has provided many opportunities for Oakland Schools’ growth. Their vision, dedication and ability to adapt as our district’s needs have changed have positioned Oakland Schools as the go-to service provider for our local school districts. We are once again held in high regard and have earned the respect of our colleagues and peers locally and across the state. We believe it is critical to our work and reputation to keep that momentum going. To ensure continuity of leadership, service and success, we have offered the superintendent position to current Chief of Staff, Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson and have begun the process of negotiating a contract with her that will become effective July 1, 2015.

Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson

During the last 14 months, Dr. Cook-Robinson has demonstrated her skills and expertise and we know she will provide the seamless leadership transition for Oakland Schools that will best serve our staff and customers. She is intimately familiar with the organization, having served as an Assistant Superintendent at Oakland Schools prior to becoming the superintendent of Southfield Public Schools, where she served for 10 years. In early 2014 she returned to Oakland Schools as the Chief-of-Staff to assist the superintendent with superintendent duties, serve as acting superintendent in Dr. Markavitch’s absence and to directly supervise Human Resources, Workforce Development, and cost recovery/ field services/programs in place with local school districts.

Dr. Cook-Robinson is a person that leads with vision, works collaboratively with others, solves problems strategically, uses data and research with diligence, and always keeps the best interests of children at the very top of decision-making. Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson will serve the students and schools of Oakland County very well and we are fortunate that she will represent Oakland Schools with her exceptional leadership qualities.


Barbara DeMarco, President, Oakland Schools Board of Education


Blog Editor: Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools


 Oakland Schools • 2111 Pontiac Lake Road • Waterford, MI 48328-2736 • 248.209.2000